Mahala Ashley Dickerson
Civil Rights Advocate, Prominent Lawyer
August 07, 2020
Mahala Ashley Dickerson (1912–2007) was a prominent lawyer and civil rights advocate. Mahala was born in Montgomery County, Alabama, and moved to Alaska in 1958. She was the first Black homesteader in the Matanuska-Susitna valley. That same year, Mahala became the first Black woman admitted to the state bar.
She was dedicated to human rights causes and as a lawyer she often took on the cases involving the rights of women and people of color. She found time to mentor young minority lawyers throughout her long career. Mahala recognized the shortcomings of her community and worked tirelessly for decades to make Alaska better for everyone. In a 1999 interview for the Matanuska-Susitna Historical Commission, she said that Alaska was “the best place in the world, the best people, the most beautiful place in the world.”
Did you know Mahala Ashley Dickerson or have a story you’d like to share about her? Share your images and stories with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging us (@anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK) and we’ll add them to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming exhibition and be sure to check back for new #ExtraToughWomenAK posts.
Image Credit: Fran Durner Collection, Anchorage Museum, B2016.4.1021